By Peggy Revell on May 3, 2017.
A man who committed fraud to send funds to family struggling in war-torn South Sudan was sentenced Tuesday to 80 days in jail.
Johnson Nyuon, 42, pled guilty to fraud over $5,000, fraud under $5,000 and theft under $5,000 for a string of incidents that stretch back to last year when he submitted fraudulent cheques to banks and then withdrew an approximate $10,000 in funds.
“2016 was a terrible year for him,” said Nyuon’s defence counsel, Marc Crarer, and the motivation for the fraud was to support family members going through a paramilitary conflict in South Sudan. Nyuon himself was born in South Sudan, Crarer explained, and was forced to become a child soldier. He eventually became a refugee, first to Cuba and then arriving in Canada.
In 2016, there was renewed war in South Sudan, where numerous family members of Nyuon’s have perished, counsel explained, and he was faced with trying to send funds back home to help support them, including to cover funeral costs.
Combined into all of this is the post-traumatic stress disorder Nyuon’s has due to his childhood, said Crarer — which has led to “serious mental health concerns” the past year as well.
This is, in part, where the most recent charge of theft under $5,000 came from, as on March 1 of this year, Nyuon came in to the Medicine Hat police station, in mental health distress, and confessing that he had stolen $253 from the till at the local fast food restaurant where he was working.
Nyuon has now been working to address these mental health issues, said his counsel, and plans to go back to school in the fall to further his education.
Alongside the 80 days of jailtime, Nyuon will be on probation for three years and be required to pay restitution.